The art of modeling in the buff

When Fiona Zublin needed to make a little extra cash, she didn’t turn to waiting tables in Dupont or working retail in Georgetown, she became a nude model at the Corcoran.

“It’s more fulfilling than working at a coffee shop,” said the slender, 5-foot-2 junior who poses for one to three art classes a week at the gallery’s College of Art of Design.

“I called the Corcoran and they said there was large demand for models,” Zublin, a GW junior, said. “It’s hard to find people who have the time.”

When she first began modeling at the art school in January, Zublin admitted she was a little anxious. “It was harder than I thought,” she said. “It can be very uncomfortable.”

At her very first class, Zublin tried to watch the other model who was also posing for the class. “I didn’t want to be bad!” she said. “When you’re up there it’s a little intimidating. But the first class I did was all women so it made it easier.”

Even though her body is scrutinized by 20 pairs of eyes each week, Zublin said she has never felt judged about her appearance.

“In art classes a body is just a body,” she explained. “You’re very exposed, but there’s also a sense of people appreciating your body for what it looks like.”

But that doesn’t mean Zublin doesn’t get requests to change her appearance for the sake of the aesthetic. “A professor I was working with once asked me, “Could you gain 40 pounds by next week?”

To deal with the physical and mental demands of nude modeling, Zublin said she does yoga to help her relax. She admits standing around still and naked for an extended period of time is not always the most stimulating activity.

“(Posing) gets boring real fast. Sometimes I just start counting the time,” she said.

Zublin said she has found other more interesting ways to pass the time through the duration of her poses, which can range from one minute to three hours. “I look for long songs or poems to recite in my head,” she said.

While people are drawing her every curve, Zublin sometimes makes mental grocery lists or thinks about all the other things she has to do. “It’s a good job for anxious people,” she joked.

Most of Zublin’s modeling is done in front of adult art classes at the Corcoran, which has two campuses, one in Georgetown and one adjacent to GW at 17th Street and New York Avenue. She described the studios she works in as, “old,” and a bit rundown. “There’s not a lot of money for classes,” she explained, but she says the adult students she poses for are “very dedicated.”

Zublin normally poses for drawing classes, but recently she was asked to pose for a painting class. She had to stand in the nude for hours that one time.

“Painting is different from drawing because you have to hold one pose for three hours,” she said. Unlike in drawings, which she said tend to be more “unfinished,” the paintings the students created actually reflected her likeness.

“It’s very flattering that they’re painting you,” she said. “Everyone (at the Corcoran) is always really nice. The professors especially, they try to make it comfortable.”

Zublin was once asked to model or a class of high school students, and she said the experience was a little different then what she was used to with the adults. Art models are usually given semi-frequent breaks from their poses, but the professor of this high school class wanted her to hold her pose for a longer chunk of time than usual. Zublin said eventually she found a position so comfortable that she actually fell asleep mid pose. The best part of the job? The professor was fine with it.

Those who have worked with Zublin express glowing reviews about her work at the Corcoran.

“Fiona has been a wonderful member of the Corcoran College of Art and Design modeling staff,” said Sarah Hoff, an administrator at the Georgetown campus, in an e-mail to The Hatchet. “She is dependable and has a very positive attitude.”

Corcoran professor John J. Anderson, whom Zublin recently worked with, echoed Hoff’s sentiment.

“Working at the Corcoran has that Gump-like quality pertaining to chocolates,” he said. “You never know what (assignment) you are going to get. Most often a model is given a chair, maybe a stick (to work with). We had an eight foot ladder. I can’t imagine posing on that thing for 20 minutes was comfortable, but (Fiona) did it.”

“I thought the ladder would be interesting,” said Zublin. “It’s fun to experiment with different set-ups.”

Anderson added that Zublin is the ideal model for art classes. “She has the components most professors require when working with a model. Self-assured, open to suggestion, willing to try different things.”

Zublin can attribute that laid back and confident attitude in part to her upbringing in California. Growing up in a “a hippy commune north of San Francisco,” people tried to discourage young girls from having body image issues and to instead love their bodies. And for this 20-year-old, nude modeling is in her blood.

“I wanted a job and my mom used to be an art model,” Zublin said. Her mother was the one that encouraged her to explore this job avenue.

In fact, the mother-daughter duo has been immortalized in statue form in her hometown of Arcata, Calif. Her mother posed with her for an artist when Zublin was just an infant. “(The statue) was pretty embarrassing when I was 13.”

Zublin said despite all the fun she is having as a nude model now, this type of job is not something she sees herself pursuing professionally. “I could see myself doing this through college and maybe right after, but I don’t have a particular passion for it,” she said.

In the end, Zublin chalks nude modeling up to be, “Something to tell the grandkids.”

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